Life, liberty, and the right to speedily download porn and P2P music

by on September 3, 2004 · 2 comments

Communications Daily reports today that the only thing the Republican platform has to say about telecom policy is that “every American [should have] access to affordable broadband by 2007.” Well, that’s nice. I guess I missed that section of the Constitution that granted every human being an inalienable right to high-speed Net connections. Perhaps the new Republicans technology platform should be labeled “Life, liberty, and the right to speedily download porn and P2P music.”


This is not really surprisingly, however. Republicans are running scared of anything remotely resembling the old “Hands Off the Net” approach that many of them once professed to believe in. Today, it’s all about who can promise us more in terms of technology entitlements.

On that note, did you see how the city of Philadelphia is proposing to turn the downtown area into the world’s largest free Wi-Fi hotspot? Hey, why not? Government has a great track record subsidizing massive public works projects, right? I’m sure this won’t turn into a massive taxpayer boondoggle. Never! And it really makes good sense to temporarily drive wireless broadband costs down to zero and simultaneously drive all the private carriers right out of the market. Yeah, that’s brilliant. Let’s turn wireless broadband into a lazy public utility and ensure competitive providers aren’t there to offer more innovate approaches.

All this activity falls under the banner of what Thomas Pearson, Wayne Crews and I have labeled the “Birth of the Digital New Deal.” Our 2002 paper on this theme documents the new communications, cyberspace, and Internet-related spending initiatives that policymakers are considering or have already implemented. They can be grouped into four general categories: (1) broadband deployment; (2) digital education, civic participation, and cultural initiatives; (3) cybersecurity; and (4) research and development. Dozens of new federal programs have been proposed in these areas during the 107th Congress. And dozens of other assistance programs already exist.

So, you might want to get in line now and make sure you get your own personal technology entitlement satisfied. Hey, how about free i-Pods for the masses? And I’d certainly like my next HDTV to be a bit cheaper. By God, I have a right to high-quality video and sound! Give me HDTV or give me death!

(P.S. Just as an aside, here’s an interesting question: If governments start building broadband networks and become the primary providers in many areas, will they be held liable for contributory infringement when millions of network users start using those networks to download P2P music and movies? That is, what would happen if the RIAA v. Verizon case became RIAA v. The City of Philadelphia? Moreover, will governments allow unrestricted access to “indecent” and “obscene” materials on the networks they operate? Or will they seek to directly filter / censor porn on their networks? I’m just wondering out loud here. But these are interesting questions.)

  • http://marlettsmith.com Dean

    Well, the pursuit of happiness is quite broadly expressed.

    ” Life, liberty, and the right to speedily download porn and P2P music”

    besides, XM Radio type tech may make P2P music too bothersome.

  • http://marlettsmith.com Dean

    Well, the pursuit of happiness is quite broadly expressed.

    ” Life, liberty, and the right to speedily download porn and P2P music”

    besides, XM Radio type tech may make P2P music too bothersome.

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